Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Artist: Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington and the Lincoln Sculptures

When we lived in Bethel this is how the Lincoln sculpture looked in the downtown I always loved looking at it. Then when we moved to the mid-west and stumbled upon it again in Illinois I now think of it as something I was supposed to see and remember.

Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington (March 10, 1876 – October 4 ,1973) was a prolific and innovative American sculptor. She was a master of naturalistic animal sculpture. Particularly noted for her equestrian statues she was active over a period of 70 years.

Huntington is recognized as one of America's finest animaliers, whose naturalistic works helped to bridge the gap between the traditional styles of the 1800s and the abstract styles of the mid-twentieth century. Her prominence also enabled other female artists to succeed. Her innovations in technique and display, as exhibited through her aluminum statues in Brookgreen Gardens, guarantee her place in the annals of art history.

During the 1940s and 1950s, she was increasingly distressed by modern art and what she considered a tasteless machine age. However, despite widespread public interest in abstract sculpture, Mrs. Huntington continued to win recognition and awards. She did her last equestrian statue when she was 91.

Huntington, along with her husband, Archer Milton Huntington, helped found nearly 20 museums and wildlife preserves as well as America's first sculpture garden, Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina.

In anticipation of the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth in 2009, the 2006 Springfield City Ornament depicts Abraham Lincoln:On the Prairie, the sculpture at the entrance to New Salem where he lived as a young man. The sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington portrays young Abe on horseback, reading a law book. Springfield artist Stan Squires interpreted the statue for the ornament design, silhouetting Lincoln and his horse between wisps of prairie grass and a split-rail fence.

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